Students must initiate the change they want in the Interfaith Center
By: Tashin Khan
Senior Staff Writer
Summary: Although the Interfaith Center needs renovations, the issues with academic buildings have to be attended to first. There is still plenty students can do to improve the center.
The ceiling tiles appear to be caving in, there are whiffs of peculiar stenches and the bathrooms are in an old and worn-out state. With a beaten-up appearance and cramped prayer spaces, the Interfaith Center is a long ways away from looking like a sacred place.
Even so, the IFC is an incredible facility that hosts numerous faith-based organizations and offers spiritual support. But if changes are to be made to the center, they must be student-driven.
According to junior psychology major Christina Yao, “The IFC is not in good condition. It’s basically a not-very-well-taken-care-of trailer. … The IFC is small and I would like to see it get a big facelift.”
There is no doubt that the IFC needs renovations and improvements. Along with maintenance issues, there is no door between the main congregation room and the lobby which constitutes a privacy issue for worshiping in the congregation room.
Rusty Postlewate, the Assistant Vice President of Facilities and Management, states that, “As far as I know, there are no ‘renovation plans’ for any of the units in the trailer complex where the Center is located.”
Postlewate adds that safety issues can be submitted for review to Facilities and Management and they will send the Safety Office to check it out. Lisa Gray, the Assistant Director of Student Life for Cultural and Spiritual Diversity, also acknowledges that changes are needed for the IFC.
However, when it comes to a queue for renovations, the IFC is on the lower-end based on priority and needs. Since UMBC is a publicly funded research university, constructing and improving academic buildings are ahead of religious support facilities.
In regard to relocating the IFC to a permanent location, Gray states, “there have been discussions to move it into the new Student Center that is in the UMBC Master Plan. But it is a few years down the line.”
Moving to a new location would not necessarily solve the issue of poor conditions. The IFC is utilized by at least 10 spiritual organizations. Students also use it for multiple purposes beyond worship. It acts as a living, eating and napping space. Gray states that this is fine, but students should take some responsibility in helping UMBC keep the area well-maintained.
“If everyone isn’t mindful of how the space is left, and if it is left to just a few people to deal with, then the IFC does not tend to be a positive experience for everyone,” adds Gray.
The best way to solve maintenance issues is to inform Student Life as soon as possible. Once Student Life is made aware of a problem, then they can submit a notice to Facilities and Management. Student Life welcomes suggestions and would like to see more students and religious leaders attend the IFC open houses held at least once each semester.
Although the IFC does need renovations, students must understand that academic buildings have a higher priority. Students do need to voice their suggestions if change is to come to the center. For the IFC to be improved, Student Life must see that whatever exists of the center is being cared for by the students.